Pakistan is not seeking to achieve parity with India in terms of nuclear weapons, but is rather pursuing Full Spectrum Deterrence doctrine to ensure that there are no gaps in its deterrence capability.
This was stated by Pakistan’s former envoy to United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Zamir Akram.
He was speaking at a seminar organized by Strategic Vision Institute on ‘South Asian Nuclear Doctrines: Deterrence Equilibrium and Strategic Stability’. The seminar coincided with the anniversary celebrations of the Islamabad based think-tank that specializes in issues related to strategic stability.
Zamir Akram noted that threats were growing in the region due to large scale acquisition of military hardware by India, its public rejection of the policy of No-First Use of nuclear weapons, determination to carry out disarming strikes against Pakistan, and its espousal of dangerous and destabilizing doctrines like the Cold Start Doctrine.
“This has required us to move towards Full Spectrum Deterrence for responding to threats at the tactical level, the counter-force level, and the counter-value level. We need to cover all levels of threat.”
He said that strategic stability in South Asia was not just about Pakistan and India and instead involved China and US.
This complicated equation was causing its destabilization, which has been further “accentuated by developments outside the nuclear realm that is developments in Occupied Kashmir. And use of terrorism by India through proxies based in Afghanistan,” he said.
Referring to a recent statement by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scholar Vipin Narang and assertions by former Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon in his book suggesting that India could shed its No-First Use doctrine and carry out disarming pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan, the former envoy said this did not come as a surprise because Pakistani security quarters never believed in an Indian declaratory statement of No-First Use, which could not be verified.
He observed these indications, nevertheless, pointed to Indian efforts to build capacity to carry out the disarming strikes.
Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, who teaches at Quaid-e-Azam University, in his presentation noted that both Pakistan and India lacked the “proficiency in decapitation capability”.
He said he was cautiously optimistic about deterrence stability continuing because both countries are aware of thecolossal cost of its failure. However, war-mongering by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, arms race and non-state actors were constraining the deterrence stability, he added.
SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema was hopeful that India would stay away from contemplating disarming strikes against Pakistan.
“A successful disarming, decapitating or pre-emptive strike against adversary possessing credible nuclear weapons capability is considered an impossibility as a rational decision,” he maintained hoping that India would act as “a rational actor and would not undertake this dangerous exercise of launching a pre-emptive strike.”
He said there was no precedent of even a failed pre-emptive strike against a nuclear state and even in South Asia the concept had long been laid to rest.
India, he recalled, had in 1980s considered conventional military doctrine of pre-emption against Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure, but had to abandon its plans.
Dr Cheema said nuclear warheads cannot be attacked with assured certainty because they are kept dispersed and under well planned camouflage.
“Survivability of even few nuclear weapons for retaliatory purposes could wreak havoc,” he warned.